ca. 1920

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

All manner of household tools and equipment have been miniaturized for little girls to play with. Such teeny tools encourage girls to learn household chores that will become part of their adult lives. Small clothes pins from the early 20th century replicate the earliest designs of these necessities of Laundry Day in the decades before Americans commonly used electric- and gas-powered clothes dryers. The U.S. government issued its first patent for the manufacture of clothespins in 1832, though even before then Shakers had reportedly whittled their own from a single length of wood. In the middle of the 19th century, the patent office granted 146 patents for new and improved clothespin design. Even in an age when clothespins are no longer needed, designers are still hard at work perfecting the clips that hold clothes to the line: since 1981, nine inventors have received patents for their innovations in clothespin making.

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  • Title: Clothespin
  • Date Created: ca. 1920
  • Location: USA
  • Subject Keywords: laundry, gender roles
  • Type: Housekeeping Toys
  • Medium: wood
  • Object ID: 109.12281
  • Credit Line: Gift of Doug & Randi Olin and Marc & Jill Olin in memory of Stephen Olin